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India Leads In Drone Data Analytics Globally: IG Drones CEO
In a freewheeling interview with BW Businessworld, IG Drones’ Co-founder and CEO Bodhisattwa Sanghapriya shared his knowledge on the importance of drones in geospatial space, India’s drone leadership, company’s work with Adani Group and international expansion plans
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Bodhisattwa Sanghapriya, Co-founder & CEO, IG Drones
In a freewheeling interaction with BW Businessworld’s Rohit Chintapali, IG Drones’ Co-founder and CEO Bodhisattwa Sanghapriya shared his knowledge on the importance of drones in geospatial space, India’s drone leadership, company’s work with Adani Group and international expansion plans.
What is the importance of geospatial data? How do drones help tap into the power of this data?
Right from infrastructure to energy, if you look into all the GDP-contributing industries – their core operations at some points are based on geospatial data intelligence. About 10 years back, we used to think that geospatial data is only for civil engineers to utilise it for things like town planning, city planning, village planning etc. But now with the advancement of technology in both web and communication space, geospatial is now part of our lives. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are all using the geospatial products in our daily lives. Consider services such as OLA, Uber and Zomato. These guys leverage the power of geospatial technology.
Drones will also play a critical role in collection of geospatial data. The PM has already begun a mission of mapping the entire India through SVAMITVA Scheme, which is the world's largest drone mapping project. Nobody in the world has actually attempted to do it in such a large scale. This scheme is essentially digitising entire India, which will enable the building of a large logistic network. It will help plan deliveries in tier 2, tier 3 cities and beyond. This would also help the e-commerce and other industries utilise drone-based high-resolution data to take the right decisions.
MNREGA had lot of issues with corruption. But drones will now monitor MNREGA work on the ground. These drones can document everything on the ground and enable the government to put up a transparent system for MNREGA and ensure that every penny is utilised optimally.
How is the Indian drone industry doing in comparison to its international counterparts?
We are actually doing better in the drone data analytics and drone services market. Because of our population and varied geography, our drone services companies, particularly the drone data analytics companies are doing better much better than rest of the world. In fact, in these aspects we are ahead of other countries. But in terms of the manufacturing, we are still lagging.
IG Drones is working with conglomerates like Adani and Reliance. Could you tell us about your work with these companies through use cases?
We work with Reliance, Adani and JSW amongst the large companies in India. With Adani, we are working in multiple verticals. One of the leading verticals is Transmissional Line industry. IG Drones is helping Adani Transmission Ltd. revolutionise the way they have been inspecting the transmission lines.
Earlier, people used to climb towers to conduct manual inspections. This posed a lot of risk to human life. We introduced drone-based inspection methodology in their transmission lines and in certain projects have completely replaced the manual ground-based patrolling with the drone-based inspections. In the drone-based inspections, the pilot flies a drone near the tower and captures the data. And IG Drones’ system automatically processes the data and prepares a report.
IG Drones also works with Adani’s natural resources division, particularly for mineral exploration and their mines management. Besides these, we have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for upskilling their entire Group with the knowledge of latest drone technologies.
Are there any plans of expanding your locations beyond Noida and Ahmedabad? Are you looking to take your solutions to other countries?
We started as a as a national company. Our first project was in Odisha, second was in Maharashtra, third was in Gujarat and fourth project was in Bihar. We have executed over 300 projects in almost all states of India. We call ourselves a K-to-K company – Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Kutch to Kohima. Moreover, our mobilisation time is 48 hours, which means that if you give us a location in any part of the world – our team will be there within 48 hours. This is the quickest turnaround time in the entire drone industry globally – not just in India.
We have Uberised the entire drone service market and drone operations market. IG Drones is not just a company, we are actually building an ecosystem surrounding IG drones. We have hundreds of Centres of Excellence all across India, which help students learn and start their own drone technology-related business. They can come up to our centres and upskill themselves. We want to empower 10 million youth and industry professionals with the latest drone technology by 2030, which is in line with our PM's vision of making India the global drone hub.
We don't want to be a Noida or Bangalore company. Instead, we want to be a global company. IG Drones will first primarily scale up into the MENA region and subsequently North America and the European market. We have already started already exploring opportunities in the the Middle East market, particularly targeting the Gulf. We would be expanding to the Gulf by the end of the year.
How many people are you looking to onboard for your global expansion efforts?
Over the next year, we want to hire 500 more IG Droners on our team.
Are you looking to raise funding?
We are currently closing an investment round from some European investors and a couple of Indian investors. It's in a very advanced stage. We will probably close the investment within a month’s time. We are also open for another round of funding.
Is it hard to secure funding in the current climate?
Two months back the conditions were still favourable. But currently, the market is bleeding, especially after the European and Credit-Suisse crisis. Investors are definitively conservative. But they are still flexible for pre-series A companies. However, for post-series A startups, it is tough to raise funds.